Re: "Region Coding Electronics and Ink Cartridges", consider that this is truly about the effect of currency fluctuations on an international business. A company incurs expenses (R&D, manufacturing, etc.) in one currency, and sells in another. When the exchange rates change significantly between when the expenses are incurred and when the sale is made, the financial results of the company will also be significantly affected (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively). This creates instability in the stock price because fickle Wall St. analysts can't handle surprises (and may also lead to gray-market activities like re-importing product from a cheaper region of the world to sell in a more expensive one, but I don't know for sure about that).
You may have a valid issue with respect to how the company should try to manage the effects of currency fluctuations, but I think the conspiracy theory about a one-time gouging of Europe to make a fast buck is a red herring. The only real solution to this might be truly dynamic, global pricing -- which might work if HP only sold direct over the web, but real world sales channels consist of a web of retailers and resellers who cannot support it (a customer wants to know that a pen costs 1.49 whether he walks into 7-11 on Monday or Friday...).
One thing is for sure, the average customer will not understand, or care to understand, the issue of currency fluctuations! The HP bean counters should be smacked for that short sightedness and the bad press it will bring. Sigh.
Update:: Cory notes: "Yeah, and by that reasoning, we need region-coded cement, tee-shirts, baby-powder and oatmeal. Currency fluctuations, riiiight."
UPDATE: The HP employee who emailed me earlier would like to point out that his original email contained the following sentence: "Not speaking for my employer in any official capacity!" I forgot to add that to the post. It's an important thing to remember when you read this. -- Mark